‘There for them automatically;’ Central Texas nonprofit aims to serve veterans in rural communities

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 8:55 AM CDT
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WHITNEY, Texas (KWTX) - A nonprofit in Whitney, known as Veterans Pardners, is helping veterans in rural Hill County communities who may not have access to a variety of resources.

“Each veteran has to fight for themselves, no matter the case, no matter their injuries, no matter the severity,” Donna Richardson, who is the assistant manager for Veterans Pardners for now, said. “They each have to fight for their own case. Here, we are there for them, automatically.”

Richardson says veterans in Whitney struggle to get the resources they are promised after serving the country because the city is small and rural. The city is located about 50 miles from Waco’s Veterans Affairs Office and over 60 miles from Fort Worth’s VA Office.

She said veterans tell her they will often get frustrated with the lengthy and time-consuming process of making phone calls to find how to get help.

“They feel like they’ve been lied to by our government because promises were made back in the day when they signed up their recruiters to get them to sign up and serve our country, so they get frustrated when it doesn’t come easy,” she said.

This is what Veterans Pardners hopes to help veterans with daily.

“We can make phone calls and pull all of that into here,” Richardson said. “That way the veteran is not bouncing from organization to organization to office to doctor to whatever. We can bring them in house and it all be done here for them.”

The goal of the organization is to take on those burdens and provide resources to the large veteran population in a small community.

Veterans Pardners has noticed the growth of veterans experiencing homeless in Hill County as well. Therefore, the organization has provided ways to fund housing and allocate resources to these veterans.

“We serve every veteran that walks in the door,” she said. “There’s a reason why they walk through our doors, whatever that reason may be, is an individual basis.”

At the beginning of 2024, the organization, which has been around for about five years, suffered a major loss. The sudden death of the founder and creator of Veterans Pardners, Donna Pickett, hit the nonprofit hard.

Richardson said the president of the organization was also in a major accident at that time as well. She said this left a pile of bills and back taxes lingering for the organization, and Richardson said she could not let Veterans Pardners’ close their doors to veterans in need.

“This weighed heavy on my heart,” she said “I didn’t see an option but to step up.”

On March 1, She became the assistant manager for the nonprofit for now. Richardson said she started the process to pay off taxes, keep the retail store up and running and make sure the nonprofit has enough funds to stay open.

However, she credits the support of the community and the Veterans Pardners team for helping the organization stay afloat.

She said they plan to continue helping every veteran who contacts them but will need the continued support of the community.

“There is always a veteran in need, and we don’t know who that is until they walk through our doors,” she said. “We never know what the situation is going to bring us on a day to day to day basis, ever, so Veterans Pardners will always need support as a nonprofit will always need support.”

As a nonprofit, she said they are always in need of financial support and donations. Anyone interested in donating can contact them via the information on their Facebook page.